2015 in review

The Loch Ness monster, a gnome, some naked fairies, an Autobot, a whole lot of castles, two mermaids and a plastic flamingo with one eye: - the magical year that was

How is this the first blog post of 2016? And how am I only reviewing 2015 now? Well, there’s an explanation for that. I actually spent weeks editing together a very entertaining 2015 highlights video - probably one of the most entertaining 2015 travel highlights videos involving the overuse of a plastic flamingo on the whole of the internet - that you would probably only watch by accident when it pops up on your Facebook home page because, though you’ve been meaning to, you haven’t turned off that ‘autoplay’ feature yet. But then I had problems with the copyright restrictions of the song that I edited it to. Man, I miss the good old days when Youtube was the Wild West and you were forgiven for copyright infringements just by acknowledging them. I will have to find an older song with more relaxed restrictions to infringe on for a less awesome edit of the video, …but it might take me a few more months.


I’ve also been working on some articles for an actual travel publication because, well, sometimes people pay me to write. (More on that later.)

In the meantime, here are the 2015 highlights of Rodrigo and I (in photographic form):

Our first stop was Tampa. Tampa’s nice.

Tampa, Florida

Then we went to Belize and didn’t get mugged!


Belize

In Honduras, I got to check ‘getting arrested off my bucket list. We also snorkelled. Win-win.



We High School Musicalled at the Mayan ruins of Chacchoben in Costa Maya.


Chacchoben, Mexico

We went to Cozumel and searched for the Mexican scuba-diving instructor with the crazy blue eyes at the place with the name I still can’t pronounce (described in my “What’s with the Flamingo? section). And failed.

Cozumel, Mexico


We went to South America for four whole hours!

Cartagena, Colombia

We went through the Panama Canal.


Panama



We found the way to San Jose.


Costa Rica

We did our first ever transatlantic cruise, earning ourselves anchor tattoos that we will probably never get.





We shared a cabin with a bicycle and a tree (at different times).

Cabin bicycle
Cabin tree (and Rodrigo)

After consuming beer in Germany, and other local er… (things that make you the opposite of sober) in Amsterdam on some of our other travels, Rodrigo added ‘drinking vodka in Russia’ to his list of dodgy stuff like that. He’s so gangsta.

St. Petersburg, Russia

We bought cool stuff in Helsinki.

Helsinki, Finland

We experienced ABBA, the Museum.

ABBA: the Museum, Stockholm

We went to two sunken ship museums.

The Titanic Experience, Cobh, Ireland

The Vasa Museum, Stockholm, Sweden


We fell in love with Rotterdam.

Market Hall / "Markthal"

Oude Haven

Erasmus Bridge


We went to a point further north than the northernmost point of Europe in the Arctic Circle.

Nordkapp, Norway


We went closish to the Southernmost point of Africa, but not really.

The Twelve Apostles, Cape Town


Rodrigo narrowly survived being compacted and recycled in Germany.

(We don’t really have a picture for this, but visualise terror and then relief on my face. He put up a brave front the whole time - well, he’s plastic - so his expression doesn’t really change.)


I got my name up at the No Name Bar. (That may not mean anything to you, but any crew member who has ever been on a ship that goes to Cozumel will nod knowingly while reading this point.)  




We ate an obscene amount of cookies. (Well, I did)




We went to this cabin party:



(That’s a lot of people in a confined space right there.)

We went to frikkin Disney World! - All four parks even.

The Magic Kingdom

EPCOT

Hollywood Studios

The Animal Kingdom


We went to Universal Studios too.

Universal Studios

Islands of Adventure


We saw a lot of castles and palaces…

Dover Castle, England

Cinderella's Castle, Disney World

Catherine's Palace, Russia

Rosenborg Castle, Denmark

Dunluce Castle, Northern Ireland

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

Dublin Castle, Ireland

Stockholm Palace, Sweden

Kadriorg Palace, Estonia

Winter Palace / Hermitage Museum, Russia

Schwerin Palace, Germany

Hogwarts Castle, Universal Studios 

Peterhof Palace, Russia

…and a lot of churches (but that’s a separate blog)


We experienced the World’s weirdest museum exhibit.


(Did you know that the Vikings used moss for toilet paper? And did you really need to?)


We met both The Little Mermaids!

Copenhagen, Denmark

The Magic Kingdom

We made friends with ‘Gnome’.

Leknes, Norway

We went to Norway and looked so hard for trolls that Rodrigo lost an eye.

Honningsvag, Norway


We didn't find Arendale in Norway, but we did see Anna and Elsa from far away.

The Magic Kingdom



We went in search of dassies in Cape Town and failed, but found an awesome palm tree that looks like a pineapple.  

Cape Town, South Africa 

We also failed in our searches to find leprechauns and unicorns, but we did find the mythical reindeer (who look a little different to how they appear on Christmas cards) and the Loch Ness Monster.

Nordkapp, Norway

Loch Ness, Scotland


Rodrigo found his family and I found my prince …and then misplaced him.

Costa Maya, Mexico

Costa Maya, Mexico

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Gram's Hostel, Tampa

Tallinn, Estonia
We also discovered a sanctuary for naked fairies and stoned hippies and fascinating people-watching in Copenhagen.

Christiania, Copenhagen

We met influential people like Micky Mouse, William Wallace and Megatron.

EPCOT Centre, Orlando

Edinburgh, Scotland

Universal Studios, Orlando

We got to scratch a lot of countries off our new scratch-off world map (yes, we’re still working on Russia)
and Rodrigo had his photo taken at a lot of fascinating landmarks.

Nyhavn, Copenhagen
Chacchoben, Mexico
Cube Houses, Rotterdam

   
Jurassic Coast, England
Panama Canal
     
Disney World

The Berlin Wall

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

Helsinki Cathedral

The Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood,
St. Petersburg

Peterhof, St. Petersburg
Brandenburg Gate, Berlin












































As for 2016…



Rodrigo and I Escape later this week for six months on the world’s fifth-biggest cruise ship, all 20 decks of it! (Yikes.) She might only be three months old, but she is a big girl. After that, we’ll be headed off to Zimbabwe for a family wedding, where we intend to spread the joy of Gangnam style and continue the quest to bring back the Macarena. After that, who knows?   




               
               


            


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Sharon Waugh

Sharon is a writer, cruise ship entertainment host and freelance unicorn wrangler, living it up on the high seas. She also likes to photograph a plastic lawn flamingo in exotic locations because it seemed like a good idea 10 years ago and 53 countries later, it’s probably too late to turn back now.

 Sharon greatly dislikes reading “travel blogs” by people who are just rephrasing press releases or composing lists like “15 ways to travel the world for cheap”, specifically formulated for SEO, with absolutely no evidence that the writer has ever left their bedroom. (This is not one of those blogs.) Sharon also dislikes bigotry and referring to herself in first person, apparently.

To find out more about Sharon and Rodrigo’s travel aspirations read this.

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Practical travel tips and destination guides for anyone visiting any of the places I have been.


My thoughts on travel mascots, photographing your butt in exotic locations and the addictive nature of cruise ship employment, among other things.

True stories about trying to find trolls in Norway, toilets in Denmark and getting flashed in Cuba, to name a few.

Tips for cruisers and crew members, as well as anecdotes from a variety of experiences at sea.